Portland man who said he accidentally killed friend while playing with gun gets more than 6 years

<p><p>A 33-year-old Portland man who said he was just “fooling around” when he put a gun to his childhood friend’s chin and pulled the trigger was sentenced to 6⅔ years in prison Friday.</p></p><p><p>Tyler Wayne Pierce said he’ll feel “guilt and shame” for the rest of his life for killing his longtime friend, Justin Stewart, as they walked home from bar-hopping about 2:30 a.m. on June 19, 2019. Both men were 30 at the time and had met up after working their shifts at a local call center, court papers state.</p></p><p><p>They were intoxicated <span class=”print_trim”>that night</span>, according to the prosecutor’s office, with Pierce’s blood alcohol level at 0.16%. The shooting was captured by the surveillance camera at a nearby home <span class=”print_trim”>as the two strolled</span> near Northeast Prescott Street and Sandy Boulevard, according to court papers.</p></p><p><p>Pierce said he didn’t realize there was a bullet in the chamber of the 9 mm semi-automatic handgun he’d purchased about a month earlier, although he said he knew there were bullets in the magazine. He said he carried his gun in his waistband while the two friends were out drinking. Pierce didn’t have a concealed weapons permit. He had no prior history of criminal convictions.</p></p><p><p>He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter with a firearm at a hearing in Multnomah County Circuit Court last month.</p></p><p><p>“The harm I have caused is unintentional, but the hurt is very real,” Pierce said during his sentencing hearing Friday. “…I wish I could take Justin’s place.”</p></p><p><p>Stewart’s mother said Pierce “stole our lives.” She doesn’t believe Pierce.</p></p><p><p>“It’s not an accident,” she said. “It’s murder.”</p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Stewart’s father began sobbing.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>“Words can’t explain how bad I feel,” the father said. “I thought in 2½ years, I’d feel better. But I don’t. … It’s all I think about. I’m haunted by his death.”</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Stewart’s girlfriend said their future kids were supposed to play together with Pierce’s future kids.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>“Justin considered you his best friend, and you were supposed to be his best man,” she said.</span></p></p><p><p>Multnomah County Circuit Judge Eric Dahlin approved the terms of the plea agreement, which had been hashed out by the defense and the prosecution. Dahlin said the case was another reminder that “firearms are not a toy” and should never be handled by someone who has been drinking.</p></p><p><p>“That is the only positive that could come out of this,” Dahlin said. “To save some other life.”</p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Prosecutors say gun sales and gun violence are up. According to the Gun Violence Data Dashboard compiled by the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, the office initiated prosecutions on 189 new cases involving gun violence in the first 11 months of 2021. That’s more than a 50% increase from all of 2019, the year Pierce killed Stewart.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>As part of the plea agreement, Pierce wrote an apology letter to Stewart’s parents. Pierce will be on post-prison supervision for almost three years.</span></p></p>